Hawaii’s Aquarium Fishery Is Shuttered, Pending Review

Users who are viewing this thread

clsanchez77

Reefkeeping Extremist
Global Moderator
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
8,820
Location
Metairie
This is going to only get worse with time. Our hobby has gotten too large and we attract too many people who disregard the life we care for. Add that the wide range of enviro-political movements and we are in a no win. Everytime you see a dead fish in a Petco, it is a strike against our entire hobby.
 

CenlaReefer

Table Acropora
LARC Supporter
Joined
Aug 13, 2013
Messages
2,630
Location
Pineville, LA
This is going to only get worse with time. Our hobby has gotten too large and we attract too many people who disregard the life we care for. Add that the wide range of enviro-political movements and we are in a no win. Everytime you see a dead fish in a Petco, it is a strike against our entire hobby.
Man, you said it! I wish places like Petco got their act together.
 

Kirk_M

Chevron Tang
LARC Supporter
Joined
Apr 1, 2005
Messages
7,835
Location
Lacombe, LA
This picture, from the article, sums it up nicely...perfectly legal to spear and kill
an ice chest full of Achilles tang to eat or sell at a fish market. Totally illegal
to collect one to keep alive in an aquarium.

 

BluewaterLa

LARC Boil Master
Administrator
LARC Supporter
Joined
Jun 17, 2014
Messages
9,005
Location
Slidell
This picture, from the article, sums it up nicely...perfectly legal to spear and kill
an ice chest full of Achilles tang to eat or sell at a fish market. Totally illegal
to collect one to keep alive in an aquarium.


Indeed this is the lunacy of it all and would end any argument some enviroManiac would have IF they could shut up long enough to listen
Though of course changing the opinion of a closed minded person does not happen.
 

clsanchez77

Reefkeeping Extremist
Global Moderator
Joined
Aug 3, 2015
Messages
8,820
Location
Metairie
IF they could shut up long enough to listen

You just summed up the problem with so many things....not limited to this specific issue at all. It is sad how many opinions are formed, trenched and defended with life based on one photo, one tweet, one post, one quote....without any context or clarification.

Is Ciguatera Fish Poisoning and issue with eating tangs?
 

oimate842005

Reefers Anonymous
Global Moderator
LARC Supporter
Joined
Apr 5, 2005
Messages
7,518
Location
Lake Charles, La
If they have data on reef fish populations like they do reef fish in Florida, then im sure a closure is warranted..hopefully temporary till populations rebound. Im all for saving our hobby, but if the data is there then i think its only fair to close it to all forms of fishing/collection for certain species that need to rebound. From an economic standpoint, Hawaii makes a lot more money keeping healthy fish populations for tourists to see and keep coming back to visit then the very few aquarium fish exporters.
 
Last edited:

seth&angelle

Coral Fever LLC
LARC Supporting Vendor
LARC Supporter
POTQ Winner
POTM Winner
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Messages
4,387
Location
Mathews, La
If they have data on reef fish populations like they do reef fish in Florida, then im sure a closure is warranted..hopefully temporary till populations rebound. Im all for saving our hobby, but if the data is there then i think its only fair to close it to all forms of fishing/collection for certain species that need to rebound. From an economic standpoint, Hawaii makes a lot more money keeping healthy fish populations for tourists to see and keep coming back to visit, then having unhealthy reefs because of a lack of reef fish.
Everything I hear is the data doesn’t support them shutting down. From what I read the numbers have gotten better with their management. Hawaii is the world standard when it comes to collection practices. What it boils down to is the data doesn’t matter when environmentalists get involved. They will just fudge the data to fit their narrative. I have very little faith in the science community anymore because it seems they have just as big agendas as the corrupt politicians in DC.
 

oimate842005

Reefers Anonymous
Global Moderator
LARC Supporter
Joined
Apr 5, 2005
Messages
7,518
Location
Lake Charles, La
Feel free to share any Hawaiian fishery study in the last couple years, I'd like to be enlightened on the issue rather then taking just anybodys opinion on something they might directly have a stake in. Call me crazy but I still believe in science and the gold standard of research... What the fishery managers do or how they interpret the data shouldn't reflect the peeps in the field busting tail to gather data on the subject. Been there done that..
 
Last edited:

seth&angelle

Coral Fever LLC
LARC Supporting Vendor
LARC Supporter
POTQ Winner
POTM Winner
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Messages
4,387
Location
Mathews, La
Feel free to share any Hawaiian fishery study in the last couple years, I'd like to be enlightened on the issue rather then taking just anybodys opinion on something they might directly have a stake in. Call me crazy but I still believe in science and the gold standard of research... What the fishery managers do or how they interpret the data shouldn't reflect the peeps in the field busting tail to gather data on the subject. Been there done that..
Hawaii fish populations increasing, and reefs are healthy. Links below with the facts and info you need to comment:

http://hawaiitropicalsaltwateraquariumfish.com/index.html

The Environmental review concludes that the fishery can reopen and it is not only sustainable but a model fishery! Read it and then comment. The link to the full 490 page environmental review:

http://oeqc2.doh.hawaii.gov/EA_EIS_...Hawaii-Island-Commercial-Aquarium-Permits.pdf

Those who oppose the fishery say we are unlimited in catch and the fishery can deplete the reefs, this is not true we are limited by many laws, catch limits, size limits, closed areas, limited holding on boats, limited to dive deco times, and recent 2014 rules were passed with even more laws to ensure sustainability of the fishery. Link to those laws:
Those who oppose the fishery say we are unlimited in catch and the fishery can deplete the reefs, this is not true we are limited by many laws, catch limits, size limits, closed areas, limited holding on boats, limited to dive deco times, and recent 2014 rules were passed with even more laws to ensure sustainability of the fishery. Link to those laws:

https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/

The fishery is so well regulated and studied it is considered a model fishery proven sustainable.

News article about the fishery environmental review:

https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2019/...e-commercial-aquarium-fishing-off-west-hawaii

What can we do against the highly biased and unscientific propaganda? Complain about content to face book and you tube posts they do that attach the fishery. We must and need to try and get the crap pulled. Got to the below links and complain about how it is an ocean user conflict, they are bullying, they slander the fishery which violates user rules for these sites!

https://forthefishes.org/


These news article are untrue and biased, but without us correcting them, providing them with the facts or responding our side is left out.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/somethings-fishy-56087127/

https://sierraclubhawaii.org/comment-on-aquarium-fish-trade-eis/

https://www.thegardenisland.com/2019/12/02/hawaii-news/comment-now-on-aquarium-fishing-impacts/

Hawaii's Fish Populations Increase (it is happening again this year 2019 and into 2020)

Videos show tropical fish swarming state's reefs


HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
It's being called a spawning event of "Biblical" proportions -- a summer swarm of fish over Hawaii's reefs. Aquarium fisherman and underwater photographer Ron Tubbs shot video off Oahu's coastline showing the population explosion.

I made a special trip last week to see it and video it myself. It really is unlike anything anyone has ever seen," Rene Umberger said. Even dive shop owner, anti fishing activists agree there lots tons of reef fish right now all across Hawaii.
"In 35 years this is the most fish I have ever seen. For most species, it's just incredible. It's just amazing. Areas where you see hundreds of fish normally, that's a lot of fish for an area, you're seeing thousands of fish," Ron Tubbs said "This year the numbers are just exceptional."
What about Aquarium fishing in Hawaii?
January 2014 saw the new Kona aquarium fish rules go into law. Aquarium fishermen and Kona DLNR scientists created stricter laws for an already sustainably fishery. Dr. Bill Walsh now advocates for these fishermen due to their cooperation and efforts to maintain fish populations.
The same thing has been done on Oahu with the DLNR researchers there. The Oahu DLNR scientists also believe we are already sustainable but agree further regulations can help to protect our reef fish. The Oahu rules should go in to effect sometimes in 2015. As a result we have wide spread support from many members of Hawaii’s legislature, DNLR and UH scientists and even private eco groups who once opposed us. Aquarium fishermen continue to work with researchers to make it the greatest sustainably fishery in the world. The oceans belong to all and to protect them and preserve it wonders is the job of all ocean users.

What do Hawaii’s ocean researchers say about aquarium fish collecting?

Here are some shortened quotes from Public testimony Hawaii County Council testimony 2014, Hawaii news now and West Hawaii Today news excerpts.

Dr. Bill Walsh October 2014:

In my capacity as the West Hawai’i Aquatic Biologist for the Division of Aquatic Resources I have been involved in the management and biological monitoring of the West Hawai’i aquarium fishery for over 15 years.
I would like to share with you some of the results of our latest monitoring efforts as they relate to the issue at hand. Two species, the Yellow Tang and Kole make up over 93% of all aquarium fish caught in West Hawai’i. Since the no-aquarium collecting Fish Replenishment Areas (FRAs) were established in 1999 (protecting 35% of the coastline), the numbers of Yellow Tang have increased in the FRAs by almost 65% while not significantly decreasing in the remaining Open Areas. In the 30’-60’ depth range alone, the numbers of Yellow Tang in West Hawai’i have increased by 1.3 million fish. Similarly Kole populations have increased not only in the FRAs (by 24%) but also in the Open Areas as well (by 28%). Kole populations in the same depth range have increased by over 2 million fish! Clearly resource management efforts are working in West Hawai’i.
Scientific studies which have indeed found high levels of mortality among aquarium fishes have typically been conducted in remote areas with poor handling capabilities. That is clearly not the case in Hawai’i.

~ Dr. William Walsh
Division of Aquatic Resources
State of Hawaii DLNR




Dr. Dan Polhemus:

It is a good thing for folks to scrutinize and ask questions about what’s going on in our fisheries and on our reefs. These are important to all of us. A realistic perspective does need to be maintained however. Let me elaborate. On Maui in 2009 there were a total of 16,300 aquarium animals caught, representing 82 different species. Yellow tangs accounted for 69% while Kole was 7% of the catch. During that same year non-aquarium commercial fishers captured (and killed) 319,491 reef fishes of 75 species. While yellow tangs weren’t caught to any degree there was considerable overlap in a number of the other species. To the commercial food catch one can add another 480,000 reef fish taken by recreational/subsistence fishers (extrapolated from 2006 NOAA Rec Fishing Survey data). So, in the grand scheme of things, the aquarium take on Maui is literally a drop in the bucket, representing less than 2% of the total mortality of reef animals that year. This serves to point out that undue focus and hyperbole about aquarium collecting and its impact on the reefs is dangerously shortsighted and counterproductive. We need to think and act holistically.

Hope I didn’t overwhelm you with numbers. (as of 2014 no aquarium fish collectors were taking fish on Maui and the number of collectors state wide have decreased and so has catch.)


~ Dr. DAN A. POLHEMUS
Division of Aquatic Resources
State of Hawaii DLNR



Emily S. Munday, M.S.

For my master’s research at Washington State University, I studied the West Hawaii aquarium trade from 2010-2012. Part of my study focused on holding and transport of live yellow tang in the West Hawaii aquarium trade.

My research on fish holding and transport indicated that the practices implemented by Hawaiian fish exporters do not cause mortality in yellow tang. In June of 2012, I collaborated with fishers and exporters in Kona, and caught 60 yellow tang from the reef, held them in a working export facility, and shipped them from Kona, HI to Portland, OR. The fish were then transported to the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, OR where they resided for 6 months. My study shows 100% survival rate of these tangs during collection, holding in the export facility, air transport, and after a 6-month holding period. In fact, the fish have now become part of an exhibit at the Hatfield Marine Science Center about sustainability in the aquarium trade and I have received no reports of mortality after 2.5 years.


~Sincerely,
Emily S. Munday, M.S.
Washington State University


As far as aquarium related mortality in Hawaii goes here’s a quote from a Cesar 2002 study “Mortality rates of aquarium fish are low and have gone down considerably since the last survey in 1984. Currently, mortality rates from collection to wholesaler are estimated at 0 to 1 percent. In the wholesaler's tanks, mortality rates range from close to 0% up to 2%. During shipment, rates range from 0.75% to 2%. This give a current total of between 1% and 5%, down from a range of 5% to 8% in the early 1980’s (van Poolen and Obara, 1984; estimates of wholesalers and collectors, own study).

~ Dr. DAN A. POLHEMUS



These studies quoted are old and much better technology and care techniques now exist so we are sure it is an even lower rate today. Decreased transport times due to better roads and more airline flights make it even easier to ship shipments with no DOA at all. Life extension techniques are used by the hobbyist at all times. Customers demand such care. Life spans of fish can be greatly increased in captivity. Many aquarium fish hobbyists tout their ability to increase fish pets life spans. Several cases have pet fish owners keeping fish alive for 15 years.

Life span of the average fish in the wild can be very short. Without enough food and the predators eating many smaller fish survivability to adult breeding state is only 2%. In 2014 a much bigger percentage survived due to increases in plankton due mainly to changes in currents. If the food is there the 1-5 million fry per adult pair spawning can result in astronomical population growth. This has resulted in biblical increases in fish populations in fall of 2014.
A few species like Angels only produce 10,000 fry per spawning which is way below the norm for most reef fish. Even those species are doing great in population numbers. Fish are very efficient breeders.


~ Ron Tubbs B.S. N.D.
University of Hawaii


Tina Owens executive director of the LOST FISH Coalition, Member West Hawaii Fisheries Council says:

A great deal of the “sky is falling” news you’ve heard about the reef recently is just plain not true.
Try giving credit to the thousands of volunteer hours given by your neighbors to the West Hawaii Fisheries Council to get the gains you are now free to enjoy. (done with the help of Aquarium Fishermen on the council who agreed to the laws)
Lost Fish Coalition, through the venue of the West Hawaii Fisheries Council, has been working with many stakeholders to get a reasonable settlement to the long-standing problem of the aquarium industry harvest. In almost 16 years, we have accomplished the following management actions:
• We have 55-plus miles of coastline where reef fish cannot be taken. These areas allow the fish to grow large enough to be very successful breeders. These areas — Fish Replenishment Areas — are the nurseries for the reef fish to spread out to the rest of the reefs.
Thanks to these measures, West Hawaii has more fish than most every other widely accessed reef in the state, especially the beautiful ornamentals that give tourists and residents so much delight. If someone says that nothing has been done in West Hawaii, they are either lying, unaware or are being duped by someone else’s lies about the situation. There are a few “outsiders,” by which I mean people who don’t live here, who have decided that West Hawaii doesn’t know what it’s doing. This group, headed by Maui resident Robert Wintner, and Wintner’s frontman Rene Umberger, decided it was going to be the ones to get aquarium collecting banned, to make themselves the “rescuers of the reef.”

Clearly if the goal is to get rid of the industry and management prevents that goal being reached, then discrediting the benefits and successes of management would seem the only way left to go. And so they have taken that path.

They have held community meetings and displayed a lot of false or twisted data, quoting from papers outdated by more than 15 years, and “re-interpreting” data from scientific papers. They have been telling people that “there are no fish left,” which is patently untrue. I once had a woman tell me with great passion and assurance that there are no fish left anywhere in West Hawaii. I asked her why she thought that, and she replied that everyone knew it. I asked if she swam in the ocean. No. Did she dive? No. Did she know anything about the management strategies in place? No. She had, however, just come from an “information session” in which she heard these things from Wintner’s frontman Rene Umberger.

Which brings me back to the wide-screen TV. The TV runs a 90-minute loop of undisturbed, natural activity of fish on the reef. Apparently, the footage was filmed on West Hawaii reefs. The article states: “Wintner praised the videos. ‘It shows what abundance looks like,’ Wintner said.”
At least he got that right.

~ Tina Owens, executive director of the LOST FISH Coalition, Member West Hawaii Fisheries Council and resident of Kailua-Kona.



See for yourself News links:

http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/26454840/videos-show-tropical-fish-swarming-states-reefs

http://www.reef2rainforest.com/2014/08/29/biblical-spawning-event-on-hawaiian-reefs/

http://westhawaiitoday.com/news/setting-record-straight-fish-collecting

http://hawaiitropicalsaltwateraquariumfish.com/index.html
 

Humblefish

Dr. Fish
Administrator
LARC Supporter
POTM Winner
Joined
Nov 30, 2011
Messages
9,867
Location
Navarre, FL
I feel these decisions are based more on emotions/political pressure than hard data. However, if the aquarium industry did a better job of policing themselves and we did a better job of keeping our animals alive in captivity... Our detractors would have less ammunition to use against us!
 

Kirk_M

Chevron Tang
LARC Supporter
Joined
Apr 1, 2005
Messages
7,835
Location
Lacombe, LA
I feel these decisions are based more on emotions/political pressure than hard data. However, if the aquarium industry did a better job of policing themselves and we did a better job of keeping our animals alive in captivity... Our detractors would have less ammunition to use against us!

I agree... there are plenty characters who are shady AF in the marine livestock supply chain. Especially now, with coral prices at all time highs for "designer" corals -- a problem that was created by the hobbyist and fraggers. It becomes really easy to ignore ethics when you are making money hand over fist for selling tiny little frags.
 

oimate842005

Reefers Anonymous
Global Moderator
LARC Supporter
Joined
Apr 5, 2005
Messages
7,518
Location
Lake Charles, La
Thanks Seth,

As mentioned I'm not familiar with the issue of Hawaiin fishery, only studied Florida's reefs during my time and work there.

But looking at some data done by the State of Hawaii and other reputable sources im seeing the abundance and populations of least the Yellow Tang have increased over the years in monitored areas. Which leads me to believe this ban is a big pile of doo doo butter.


"For Yellow Tang it is clear that populations are robust and have been increasing in protected
areas and in some cases have reached levels found decades ago before aquarium collecting
expanded along the coast. In the shallower shoreline areas open to aquarium collecting, breeding populations of Yellow Tang are not significantly different than closed areas and in deeper WHAP survey site areas (30’-60’) the population of smaller, aquarium-targeted, Yellow Tang
has not significantly decreased over the last 15 years."

So see..I wasn't trying to agree or disagree with anybody... just give me some reliable data and I'll reach my own conclusion. I now hate that aquarium shops like yours will suffer with this ban. Never in a million years would i have thought a yellow tang would be too expensive for the average aquarist now. I do hope however, more work in aquaculturing these Hawaiin fish will lead to getting some of these amazing animals back into the hobby at reasonable costs.
 
Last edited:

seth&angelle

Coral Fever LLC
LARC Supporting Vendor
LARC Supporter
POTQ Winner
POTM Winner
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Messages
4,387
Location
Mathews, La
Thanks Seth,

As mentioned I'm not familiar with the issue of Hawaiin fishery, only studied Florida's reefs during my time and work there.

But looking at some data done by the State of Hawaii and other reputable sources im seeing the abundance and populations of least the Yellow Tang have increased over the years in monitored areas. Which leads me to believe this ban is a big pile of doo doo butter.


"For Yellow Tang it is clear that populations are robust and have been increasing in protected
areas and in some cases have reached levels found decades ago before aquarium collecting
expanded along the coast. In the shallower shoreline areas open to aquarium collecting, breeding populations of Yellow Tang are not significantly different than closed areas and in deeper WHAP survey site areas (30’-60’) the population of smaller, aquarium-targeted, Yellow Tang
has not significantly decreased over the last 15 years."

So see..I wasn't trying to agree or disagree with anybody... just give me some reliable data and I'll reach my own conclusion. I now hate that aquarium shops like yours will suffer with this ban. Never in a million years would i have thought a yellow tang would be too expensive for the average aquarist now. I do hope however, more work in aquaculturing these Hawaiin fish will lead to getting some of these amazing animals back into the hobby at reasonable costs.
Honestly, as much as I disagree with the bans, and the environmental warriors who refuse to compromise with us, I’ll probably be a much happier person if I never sell another fish! Fish have been the biggest pain in the ***! I don’t make money on them, and as much as I’ve been told by customers if you quarantine I’ll buy from you, they don’t.... So at the end of the day if all fish are banned, I’ll have less stress and more money! Maybe I should change my stance? I blame 2020, and the first 20 days of 2021 being worse than 2020 for my terrible attitude! Lol
 

Humblefish

Dr. Fish
Administrator
LARC Supporter
POTM Winner
Joined
Nov 30, 2011
Messages
9,867
Location
Navarre, FL
I'm the opposite of Seth. If we get to a point where we can't get fish (or they are all crazy expensive), I'll leave the hobby and go back to freshwater. Just keeping corals alone isn't enough to do it for me.
 

seth&angelle

Coral Fever LLC
LARC Supporting Vendor
LARC Supporter
POTQ Winner
POTM Winner
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Messages
4,387
Location
Mathews, La
I'm the opposite of Seth. If we get to a point where we can't get fish (or they are all crazy expensive), I'll leave the hobby and go back to freshwater. Just keeping corals alone isn't enough to do it for me.
Fish are just accessories to corals, you know that. All reef tanks will have from now on are tank bred clowns, TB blue hippos, TB yellow tangs, limited TB gobies, and maybe a TB Angel or two. What more could you want Bobby?
 
Top